Pagan Church Lady is Relocating!

So, those of you who have been following this blog for a while are probably aware of the tumultuous life changes that I’ve been experiencing.  Leaving a toxic relationship, moving back in with family, trying to find a new place in the world… the last six months have been some of the wildest and at times, darkest, months of my life.

Well, I received an invitation from a dear friend who lives in San Diego to move in with him until I get my feet under me and can stand on my own.  I’ve never been to San Diego; I’ve never been west of Ohio in the United States.  Looking at a map the other day I realized that I was travelling just about as far away from Western New York as I could without leaving the continental US.  I’m grateful for the assistance, excited and terrified of the major changes, hurting for all of the loved ones I’ll be leaving behind, glowing for all of the loved ones I’ll make when I move.

I’m glad; I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this, and not a single one has had anything bad to say about San Diego.  Although I’d love to be closer to the Bay Area because of the queer mecca that it is and the awesome Heathen and Pagan groups in the area, I’m also glad that the place I’ll be moving to comes so very highly recommended.  I can’t wait!

Given the lack of funds that I’m experiencing, I’ve decided to do publicly what I’ve only done privately before and set out my shingle for oracular work as is not uncommon in our communities.  I’m trained in and have practiced oracular trance work (seidh if you like, as it’s Norse-flavored) for individuals and communities for the last few years.  I’ve always had good results and responses.  I will provide answers to three questions for each individual who signs up in a limited session.  As is common, the sessions will be offline and questions asked and answers provided by email; having Skype open for a full online setting would be a bit distracting.  I may be open to it in the future, but for now I’ll stick with what works.

I’ll be charging $30 for three questions.  The whole kit-and-kaboodle will take the better part of an afternoon or evening for me, so I’ll be paying my assistant for their time, and pay for good offerings to give the powers, and  saving what’s left over for my personal funds for support and travel.

In addition, I’ll perform rune readings for $15.  I’ll be charging less for those because they take less time and materials and I don’t need a friend to help.  They will likewise be three questions and three answers provided, unless the runes provide more information to pass on.

Also, for people who are trans or otherwise gender variant I will provide a discount, as I know first hand how difficult it is for us to find employment and resources and I believe that it is in the spirit of the promise that I made to the rest of my community.

I also have a good hand at creating and designing bindrunes.  If there is one that you would like for a particular purpose, contact me and we can work something out.  I’m not going to set a particular price for this; it depends on the size and nature of the project.

So if you’re interested, contact me about any of the above.  If you’re not and willing to help, please read through my gofundme request and give what you can; I will greatly appreciate any assistance you can provide.  If you’re strapped for cash and don’t need divination, share my request and announcement if you can; I promise I’ll do the same for you when the situation arises.

I feel that this move will herald a new and beneficial chapter in my life.  I’m a person who believes strongly that good fortune exists to be shared, and I will happily share what fortune comes to me in my new home with those who need it and will benefit from it, and with family and loved ones.  Maybe some of you will be among that number in the future; I hope so!

Mid-Week Pause (Personal Stuff)

So I’m taking a brief break halfway through Sirius Rising, and visiting with family who live close by and have a private shower and the Internet.  Sirius is always a powerful experience of one variety or another for me; and usually for the better.  This week has been no exception; it feels like a bit of closure.  Given that I’ve confirmed that I’m moving to San Diego in (wow, precisely) two months with the goal of starting a new and hopefully better chapter in my life, I’ve been seeing all of the folks that I missed last year and don’t know when I’ll see again.   I’m feeling a lot of bittersweet and melancholy.

There are a lot of good things too.  There has been a lot of activity for people like myself who like a lot of Norsiness.  Diana Paxson is teaching a week-long class on possessory trance, Patricia Lafaylve is there with yonder Travelling Ve of Freyja and had a great discussion workshop regarding religion, morality, and ethics on Tuesday.  There has been a lot of laughter and smiles and sharing and stories and rituals and magick all the things that I get out of this festival, and there have been ample reminders that I share the festival with people who don’t share those reasons, and that it’s important to respect their reasons for being there as well.

(Other update of note: there are at least three Freyaswomen at the possessory trance workshop.  Two of us have been waffling about whether we wish to bring Freyja to the party at the end of the week, and tonight was the night that we had to make a decision.  Tonight is also the night that I was given a gorgeous amber pendant that I don’t remember ever seeing before that belonged to my dead sister (who also had a strong association with Freyja).  The Lady has spoken – after I got it we just looked at each other and said “We’re actually doing this, aren’t we?!”)

My Brisingamen

(Aforementioned pendant belonging to Rose, passed on to me.)

Strong Roots and Wide Branches – Polytheist Woo

I recently had the pleasure of attending River Devora‘s class on “Polytheist Woo” in the Strong Roots and Wide Branches series.  I became aware of the class series through Cara’s blog and was immediately interested in it.  The class that I attended, the second in the series, focused on spiritual hygiene and cleanliness from a polytheist perspective.

The class started off with introductions and a series of assumptions being presented about the style of practice and beliefs being discussed in the class.  These included genuine polytheism (a belief in many gods), a grasp of animistic principle (the idea that many things have consciousness), the desire to cultivate right relationship with the Powers, an expression of embodied spirituality (our bodies and this world are important and an expression of spirit), and an awareness of the power and responsibility that comes with our mortality.  River also included a statement of radical inclusivity; that was good to hear.  Although most Pagan and Polytheistic communities are cooler about various minorities than they have been in the past I know that hearing the inclusivity stated explicitly made me feel far more comfortable, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one.

Something else that was offered was altar space.  There was a shrine set up with offerings available for anyone who was physically present who felt the need to rise and give to the Powers.  For those of us at home, if we asked, someone would take care of it.  I appreciated the offer but had my own shrine “activated” and going during the class, and I thought that it was a positive service to provide for a class full of polytheists.

We discussed what sort of things could make us spiritually unclean and the concept of spiritual malaise.  We also delved into the evil eye, the power that many cultures are aware of to unconsciously curse and wreak harm through our gazes, whether through the attention of Ancestors and other spiritual allies or projection of harmful energy and will.

Then we went into many different ways and means of cleansing.   There seem to be styles of spiritual hygeine that are cross-cultural; some methods involve washing, cleansing and purifying through a substance or action, and some of them seem to emphasize passing on the negative luck or energy or spirits to another medium and getting rid of them, often in such a way that they are put into the hands of Powers that will know better how to make use of them.  We also went into warding and protections, which I tend to think of as pre-emptive cleansing, and discussed how alliances with Ancestors and other powers can be helpful for protection and prevention of malaise and harmful actions against us.

Towards the end of the class, a period was devoted to the Powers, asking them if there was anything concerning the subject at hand that they wished to reveal to us.  Again, I was impressed by this expression of good hospitality and respect to the Gods and Ancestors, and think that it’s a valuable practice.  I’ll reveal the one thing that I was given from this that I was encouraged to share: Use a penny to wipe away bad love luck.  Stand by your door, and pass the penny all around you, picking up and straining out all of the ill luck and negativity surrounding your love life and that aspect of yourself, open the door, take a step out, and hurl it as far as you can, with intent.  It worked like a charm.

So, if you read this, hie thee hence to Facebook and sign up for the group and these valuable classes.  This is the real deal, folks – polytheist people helping each other sort out their beliefs and practices, working to reinforce and build on the patchwork tents that we’re creating and that someday we hope will be a complex of grand temples.

My Freyja Story

blotgydia

(A Freyja image that I love because it reminds me of her title of Blotgydia, by Relotixke on DeviantArt)

So, I’ve started a Facebook group called “Virtual Sessrumnir” for other Freyjasfolk.  We’re doing introductions and I realized that my introduction and my story involving Her power in my life and the slow buildup to this new beginning I’ve found in Her was way too long for a Facebook post.  Also, I won’t be able to participate in the popular Month of Devotional Writing Meme that’s been going around with a lot of Polytheists right now because I’m going to be away from wifi for the week that I’m at the Sirius Rising festival, so I thought that I’d at least throw some of the “why” of my devotion to Her.

I’ve known about Freyja and the Vanir and Aesir for much of my life; I was introduced to them through the Choose Your Own Adventure novel “Trumpet of Terror” when I was five years old. I remember asking the librarian at my school for more books about Norse mythology and dinosaurs and got all excited and escorted me to the “big kid’s library”.

After shrugging of the crippling remains of the monotheistic faith that I had been raised in (Islam) I found Pagan practice through Wicca (like you do) and was pleased that the Norse Gods were relatively popular among the Wiccans that I knew, and would work them into my rites where I could. I was vaguely aware of Asatru, and attended a few blots in Niagara Falls but the visiting Godi left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a chill – he had a very specific idea of what folks who honored those Gods were and I surely didn’t fit into it. I spent time exploring various Neopagan traditions from there.

Freyja wasn’t a huge force (as far as I know) in my life until the summer of 2009, when I encountered her through a guided meditation and experiences in Patty’s travelling ve. There was a whole web worth of people that were twined together through her that summer and it ended up changing all of our lives in the long term – we all got what we asked her for in the dark of night in our hearts in that shrine, though all of us had to do things (unknowingly) on behalf of each other before we earned it. This was also when I first had to face my gender identity issues head on – in the meditation Freyja was very straightforward and no-nonsense about it; she saw me as who I was and called me out for hiding it. My gratitude towards her has overflowed ever since and I try to express it whenever I can.

Since then my path has been steered more towards Heathenry although I can’t embrace that label personally (although it’s been applied to me many times by many folks) for personal reasons. Even the Goddess I revered as my Matron before started pushing me in this direction, though it took a while to realize it. “Go to the Gods of your childhood and Ancestors.” I had been told.

I joined ADF when I found out that you could practice Norse-style rites and that there were a lot of people involved in that culture there, and that helped me cement regular devotional practice and give me a good framework with which to begin a more serious study of and relationship with the Gods that I had loved since childhood. I had always been more interested in the Vanir than the Aesir with some exceptions (and the whole Vanatru thing is kind of appealing as a concept and label to me), and my practice represented that. I honored Freyja frequently for bringing the kind of love that I needed into my life, and for teaching me to be myself unapologetically.

Then, towards the end of last winter, I had a serious life change: I broke up with my partner (we were supposed to be married on Midsummer so it wasn’t whimsy, it was a situation that had grown toxic and dangerous) and ended up on a mattress on the floor of a converted storeroom in an apartment that I had lived in years before. I felt like I was falling from a great height with no one to catch me. I remember lying there on my bed, crying, when the light coming in the window changed quality to a rich orange-gold. It felt like it was surrounding me, embracing me, filling me. I went from feeling absolutely wretched and lost to loving myself in ways that I never had before and finding beauty in me that I’d never seen or felt. I felt Her, I knew it was Her. She cradled me in light and warmth and beauty and love. She made me feel safe when I felt that I had no one I could turn to, loved when I felt unloved, and beautiful when I felt hideous. She washed away the pain and fear and self-doubt and replaced it with all of the things I needed.

I had never felt like this before in my life. I asked Her if I could be Hers. The feeling that I got was that I already was, and that all that was left was to formalize it. (Being the sort of person that I am, I did divination and had a couple of others do it on my behalf as well.  All of the results were remarkably positive).  So I did, privately and personally, and my life has not been the same since.

The warmth and love and light are not the only parts of Her I’ve seen since then. She knows too well how I like avoiding looking at difficult and dangerous things. Since then she has made sure that I faced some of Her aspects that I was afraid of. She guided me to experiencing and embracing them through understanding, and I’m grateful that She was so gentle, even if it didn’t seem like it at the time. I’ve sacrificed much upon Her altar, sometimes unwillingly, but I breathed through it and trusted Her and was not disappointed for my trust. Though I’m sure that there will be more to give, and more tears (always more tears!) I’ve learned to trust where She guides me, and it feels good to give Her that trust. She’s guided me further, to reach out to my Ancestors and work with them as well, and I’d like to get to the point where I no longer need to lean on Her but can stand on my own and make Her proud.

Fields of Gold

A sweet and lovely retelling of Skirnismal (one of my favorite lays) from Frey’s perspective. Nornoriel seems to have a similar impression regarding Gerda’s agency and power in the tale as I do. I’ve never seen it as the abduction-and-forced-marriage story that so many folks assume that it is; Gerda was in her place of power when Skirnir came to her and her agreement to meet with Freyr after was based more on not wanting to deal with his rude and hostile friend than out of fear of what Skirnir could do to her. Not to say other impressions are wrong, but they never rang true to me.